By Samantha Hassett soon to be Reiton
My wedding was supposed to be April 4th, 2020.
You’re at the 16 day countdown. The day you’ve envisioned, planned, and dedicated all your free moments and thinking space to in the past 367 days. The day all your dear friends and family, all 186 of them, will gather to celebrate your love and unity as one. The day you’ll wake up early with your Maid of Honor by your side and get your makeup done a little over the top for the photos that will be a keepsake memory and last a lifetime. The day your dad will walk you down the aisle towards your future husband, and your future husband will see you in the most beautiful white dress that fits you like a glove. The day all your grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins and family will take photos wearing the largest smiles filled with joy and happiness as they stand by your side. The day you will be announced as Mr & Mrs, and you start your life together united by a covenant. The day you’ll tear up the dance floor, and end the night with your husband. All unexpectedly postponed.
You are feeling so light and high on life - the day is almost here! Then you feel like you’ve been hit by a massive train. All the emotions streaming through your body are so hard to describe, and you can’t expect anyone to relate to the feelings you have.
Disclaimer: these are all raw emotions and the journey I experienced, they are not as holistic and not as empathetic to others in the world who have obstacles, compromised immune systems, and true struggles with fear of a pandemic as I would like. But this was my journey - as selfish as it may be.
First was doubt fueled by Google search. Was this really going to progress to make us move our wedding? Is our country’s leader really going to mandate and sanction with the negative economic consequences? Was our state really going to mandate and sanction us with the inability to have a wedding - is that even possible - the day most people say is the best day of their lives.
Second was tenacious resourcefulness. How could we interpret or get around the sanctions and mandates to still make our day happen? What loophole could I find? What workaround could I create? What if we bought hand sanitizer for every table and moved all the chairs 6 feet apart?
Third was denial. This is a dream, there is no way this is happening. This is a delusion caused by the buildup of stress in the past year of planning this day... our day.
Fourth was frustration. After so many days of planning and the day being right around the corner - final payments, paid; final logistics, done; last fitting, this weekend. All blow up.
Fifth was self-sabotage. How could I be so naive to think the worst thing that could happen on our wedding day was rain. Idiot.
Sixth was unstoppable tears from the sadness of coming to reality.
Seventh was anger. I’m so over hearing other people’s struggles about social distancing from their social lifestyles. I’m so annoyed that no one I know can relate to what I am going through. I hate you COVID-19.
Eighth was skepticism. Did we make the right decision? Is this all going to blow over? Are we going to regret postponing?
Ninth was realization. We were getting to the stage where we were forcing guests to decide between their health and our wedding celebration - and that was not okay with us. The fact is, my wedding could be the reason my grandpa (who has diabetes and is in remission from cancer) gets sick and never recovers.
Tenth was attempted optimism.
Eleventh was a compassionate disappointment.
“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.”- Regina Brett
Our wedding is not the biggest struggle or worst thing that could happen at this time. There are so many other people in the world going through so many larger things. I know it is okay for me to experience all the feelings I have, and life is a process, but I am disappointed. I would hone in on my own problems, and forget about all the other problems one could have.
Twelfth is depersonalization. Where, if I am being honest with myself, I still remain. I feel so disconnected to everything that is happening - so fast - and I can’t catch up or find attachment to things that I usually can. My coping mechanism has been to cover it with attempted optimism until I figure out how to catch back up.
Let’s go back to my type-A personality. So now what? What action do you take? No one has experience or has been through this before? You are on new charted waters - what do we do?
We have 14 vendors, and a venue that is already booking for 2021.
If you have the time, I strongly suggest calling your venue and vendor to ask what happens and what you all can do to work together if your wedding is forced to be postponed. We made all these decisions in a span of 3 days, or 72 hours, because even during sleep, my subconscious was running options, algorithms, and scenarios.
Step 1: call the venue. Ask what their policy is, what their thoughts of the progression of COVID-19 sanctions and mandates are (ours was in a different county), and what options you have.
Step 2: lock in a new date. Give yourself mental space and emotional time at this step. For me it was the date I had dreamt about everyday for 367 days. The date stamped on nearly everything I had created, made, and purchased for our day. Even my new go to passcode. A new date may feel similar to a new identity.
Step 3: reach out to each of your vendors. A couple things my fiance and I were able to grapple with and remember during this time: 1) we are not the only bride and groom this vendor has received these calls from, 2) many of our vendors are small businesses or small business owners and this is an extremely scary and difficult time for them, 3) we do have to move fast because if we need to find a new vendor we only have 3 months and our allocated budget was already paid off to all our current vendors. Tip: ask for updated contracts.
Step 4: getting in contact with our whole guest list. There are many communication forms you can choose to do this. We chose to reach out individually via text to all 186 of our guests. I will warn you, it is emotionally draining. We sent the same templated message - but each person is going to respond in a different capacity - with questions, concerns, or want to hear how you are doing. If you are not in the right mental space to respond - that is okay. We took the step to include in our template:
“please be patient with us on our responses as we have to text our entire guest list”.
Step 5: decide what to do with the “old” date. To us, 4.4.20 is so special and will always be special in our hearts. We had the unique ability to have already acquired our marriage license. We haven’t decided yet what we will do, but we know we want to do something special to preserve that day in our hearts.
Step 6: change the date on your website and registry. Be patient with yourself, your fiance, your family and friends, your vendors, and time. For me this was the pinnacle of emotion #6.
Step 7: be united. There are many different outcomes of all the steps I just laid out above. For us, most vendors were available the date we moved our wedding to, but a few were not. We are still in discussion with one trying to ask for our money back so we can use it to find a new vendor as a replacement. It hasn’t been easy balancing empathy with someone who is missing compassion. Whatever the outcome is for you - be united together - and discuss with yourselves what your new day and old day look like for YOU. Many people will have opinions and offer suggestions - which all come from such an amazing place - but remember this is YOUR life and YOUR wedding. If you’ve reached emotion #12, like myself, this one is hard to remember at times.
Step 8: We aren’t here yet. We know there are so many more steps ahead of us - not just with making it to our wedding - but through the life we are building together. When I look back, I hope I can laugh about this, and as everyone tells us, it will be a story we can tell our children and grandchildren. All I know is, I feel even more confident than I already was in my decision of a life partner. The time that is supposed to be the most happy times of our relationship turned to the most stressful - emotionally, mentally and physically - yet we were always by each other’s side.
My final thoughts.
I am so incredibly grateful to be surrounded by an incredible support system. I have an absolutely rockstar fiance by my side. My type-A personality feels so much stronger with you as a life partner knowing we can get through whatever curveball or wrench in our plans that we encounter together. We are so so so blessed to have the parents we have. They are so willing and present to talk through any detail or emotion we are experiencing - if it is a listening ear, someone to help reach out to vendors and guests, or someone to negotiate contracts with us. Our siblings who probably don’t realize it, but have each helped with what may seem like small tasks but in the big picture are more mini decisions in the midst of the most immense decision fatigue I’ve ever felt in my life. And to all the random people in our social distancing network who reach out unexpectedly with the most kind and gentle messages.
I wrote this as a meditative way to sit with and feel all the feels I’ve been experiencing. Usually wouldn’t share this, but I realize it can possibly help and touch other brides and grooms going through our similar experience, yet individualized to their own journey. We will make it to our wedding day...just not the day we had originally thought. Your feelings and emotions are valid. Hang in there.